Live as a coward or die as a hero?

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Live as a coward or die as a hero?

Post Number:#1  Postby Scott » April 29th, 2008, 2:35 am

I recently came across the question, "Is it better to be a live coward or a dead hero?"

Here is what I think:

One can pointlessly face danger so one can be or seem tough or brave. (I call that self-destructive pseudo-toughness.) But that's not generally what is meant by heroism. Similarly, choosing not to face danger when facing the danger is more harmful than not is generally not what is meant by cowardice. I think cowardice generally refers to people who make harmful decisions out of fear. Heroes are generally people like firefighters who overcome their natural fear of fire when they can see it is worth the risk. Of course, we are more prone to use the word heroism when we feel the brave decision is especially compassionate. We are more prone to use the word cowardice when the fearful decision is especially selfish.

Anyway, regarding my own personal values, I generally prefer to stay alive. Of course, I would choose to die or risk dying if doing it would have results that I want more than choosing to live. For example, if I saw an innocent 3-year-old girl playing in the street about to be hit by a car, and for the sake of simplicity let's say I know that either I have to let her die or kill myself to save her, of course I would choose to save her. Who wouldn't?

What do you think? Is it better to live as a coward or die as a hero?
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Post Number:#2  Postby mike » May 6th, 2008, 11:53 pm

helo Can't answer that one in words really! I guess each one of us will answer that through our choices and actions('time will tell')-not though rationale. I like the question quite a bit.
People can simply inspire and be heroes (mickey mantle johnny thunders whoever).
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Post Number:#3  Postby anarchyisbliss » May 7th, 2008, 9:24 am

I'd rather live a coward because i dont care what people think of me.
"If there is hope, it lies in the proles." - George Orwell, 1984
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Post Number:#4  Postby AlexHartfelt » May 8th, 2008, 4:12 am

I agree that it is a very interesting question, but I can't see how you can answer it in other ways than simply looking at your actions in retrospect. Certainly we humans are guided by many other factors than pure rationality, so equations like:
if (risk_of_loosing_life > chance_of_saving_3_year_old_girl) {perform_heroic_act();} else {be_a_coward();}
doesn't really cover the issue completely. That being said, I hope I would act in a heroic manner (and not just because of what other people might think) if I was in a situation where I could make a difference. Another question seems to be wether you can 'train' yourself for these situations, to kinda rehearse potential situations where heroicism could be called for, and so increase your chances of 'being a hero' (as the speed and confusion of the situation would be likely to influence your rational frame of mind).
In general though, I do believe that risks are an important part of life, and without it there is a strong possibility of becoming dull. I do not however endorse a pointless quest for danger (like in the classic macho-stereotype) that only seeks to establish a dominant position i relation to other 'not so brave' men.
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Post Number:#5  Postby rowan » October 6th, 2008, 12:49 am

It has already been said that the actions that a person takes in situations that provide the opportunity for selfless heroism are generally instinctual, but can be trained. I think that is generally more a matter of preparedness than conscious thought, but what if it was a situation that you were allowed to think out?
For example if you were in a room with a three year old girl and you knew that one of you had to die and it was completely your choice which one of you it was what would you do?
Personally, regardless of what other people thought of me, I doubt that I could continue to enjoy my life knowing that someone else was dead because I put myself first.
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Post Number:#6  Postby nameless » October 6th, 2008, 4:16 am

"A coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man dies but once."

(We do what is in our nature to do, each of us, at the moment of necessity. What is 'better' or not is a moot point. We have no 'choices'.)
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Post Number:#7  Postby Belinda » October 6th, 2008, 4:37 am

We do what is in our nature to do, each of us, at the moment of necessity. What is 'better' or not is a moot point. We have no 'choices'.)


as Jesus upon the cross said.

Other contributors, who I guess would endorse nameless's, ((do you?)) , support situational ethics, I gather.

Is it ever reasonable to make any hard and fast rule about ethics?Or is it always best to judge every situation as unique?

I suppose the law has to make hard and fast rules, and I think that a judge who is politically socialist would be more of a situationist than the hanging judge.
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Post Number:#8  Postby nameless » October 6th, 2008, 4:56 am

Belinda wrote:
We do what is in our nature to do, each of us, at the moment of necessity. What is 'better' or not is a moot point. We have no 'choices'.)

as Jesus upon the cross said.

Yes dear...

Other contributors, who I guess would endorse nameless's, ((do you?)) , support situational ethics, I gather.

Situational ethics still implies a 'choice' (although it is more in line with a reality/universe that is unique/different every moment). 'Ethics' implies 'choice'.
There is no 'choice'.

Is it ever reasonable to make any hard and fast rule about ethics?

Sure, how about ethics is a construct of the ego and is therefore unique to the perceiving egoPerspective.
In 'reality' there is no 'choice' and hence, no 'ethics'. There certainly is, though, the feeling of making 'choices'...

Or is it always best to judge every situation as unique?

Every moment is unique!
'Judge' or not, we act according to our nature. 'Will' is a construct of the ego.
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Post Number:#9  Postby Belinda » October 6th, 2008, 7:26 pm

Yes dear...


Pick and mix, I dont have to buy the whole farm.
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Post Number:#10  Postby nameless » October 7th, 2008, 3:59 am

Belinda wrote:
Yes dear...


Pick and mix, I dont have to buy the whole farm.

Nothing personal. The statement simply had no meaning to me. And, due to the religious nature and the nature of 'belief', I rather not deal with it. Hence, my response.
Peace
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Post Number:#11  Postby Belinda » October 7th, 2008, 6:06 am

nameless, you are intuitively perceptive. My defensive attitude is due to my experience of many people who are ex-Christians or ex-Jews. I formerly attended Humanists' meetings and I discovered that Humanists' baggage frequently includes a positive dislike for anything churchy.

I can understand how reaction to the fundagelical religiosity that one learns is prevalent in the US causes some of the freer sort of US citizen , probably represented by most of the philosophers here, to react with dislike for anything churchy.

Personally, I think it is unfortunate that the ethics of the great Rabbi Hillel and his liberal school which are recorded in places in the Christian Gospels are often dismissed as merely 'churchy'.

Fundagelicals have done a disservice to Christianity.
Fear-zombie-ethics don't represent the daring nature of love.
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Post Number:#12  Postby nameless » October 7th, 2008, 8:05 am

I understand what you are saying. I don't really have anything against any particular religion. I have learned that conversations about the subject of one's 'beliefs' (the other person's) most often gets ugly, even if both share the 'beliefs'. As I have no beliefs, I, if a 'choice', will try to avoid the 'context of conflict'. Any 'beliefs', whether 'Jesus' or 'cause and effect' or 'materialism', .. whatever the 'belief', the symptoms remain the same; ugly, when it feels threatened.
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Post Number:#13  Postby willowtreeme » October 9th, 2008, 12:41 pm

rowan wrote:It has already been said that the actions that a person takes in situations that provide the opportunity for selfless heroism are generally instinctual, but can be trained. I think that is generally more a matter of preparedness than conscious thought, but what if it was a situation that you were allowed to think out?
For example if you were in a room with a three year old girl and you knew that one of you had to die and it was completely your choice which one of you it was what would you do?
Personally, regardless of what other people thought of me, I doubt that I could continue to enjoy my life knowing that someone else was dead because I put myself first.


I have heard people who have performed heroic acts, when asked what was going through their mind, how were they able to do what they did, respond by saying that they didn't even give it any thought. If they had, they might not have done it. They saw what had to be done and just did it.

Perhaps we can train ourselves to respond heroically -- that may or may not come from knowing how important life is, the quality of life. It may also come from facing whatever life has to offer, the good and the bad, and the struggles.

I have heard it said that people who are truly not afraid to live and enjoy life to the fullest -- those are the same people who would not be afraid to face death.

I would like to believe that I might save a child, if I ever had to - as I am a mother. But I am not sure until the opportunity arose and I was actually faced with it, how I would react.

I don't necessarily believe that someone who would decide "for their own life" is a coward, just as I don't necessarily believe that somehow who would automatically save someone would be a hero. There are daredevils and people who like the idea of putting their own life in jeopardy.
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Post Number:#14  Postby Belinda » October 10th, 2008, 5:34 am

Willowtreeme, I do agree that most persons can be influenced by a culture that prescribes certain behaviors, such as sacrificing one'sown life to save a child's life. I am a mother too, and I would give anything I have including my life to save my sons.

However, it is taken to be historical fact that during prolonged periods of famine , not only does ordinary social morality disappear, cannibalism appears and mothers eat their own children.This is a good strategy for survival of the group because a child cannot survive without a parent and mothers are valuable to the group as they can get the population viable again.
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Post Number:#15  Postby wanabe » December 5th, 2008, 11:28 pm

if the unexamined life is not worth living. then to me, neither is a life of cowardice. a coward will rarely accomplish anything, however he may live a comfortable life.

ultimately, you must sacrifice your life, i.e. we all die in order to make space for new people and new ideas, so why be a coward in the first place?

why not live a life of courage and selflessness. so that the new ideas and new people that you surrender your life to anyways, are able to make better sacrifices them selves.

i love this one: "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors: we borrow it from our children."

and here is an short writing on who said it>>>>>>>>>>
This quote, along with some close variants, is sometimes labeled as an Indian proverb, or attributed to Antoine de St. Exupery, or to Ralph Waldo Emerson or to David Bower. Like Chief Seattle's famous environmental speech from 1854 (which was actually written by a screenwriter in 1971),the quote strikes me as a late-20th century idealization of what some revered figure in the past must have thought, supposedly.

>>Does anyone know the actual origin of this quote? Does it appear in any reliable collection of famous quotes?

>>According to The Quote Verifier, the origin is uncertain, but it was likely coined by 20th century environmentalist David Brower.
http://volokh.com/posts/1177998093.shtml
Secret To Eternal Life: Live Life To The Fullest, Help All Others To Do So.Meaning of Life Is Choice. Increase choice through direct perception. Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality.BeTheChange.
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